The Shocking Report of Land Corruption
The Members of Parliament’s Lower House, the Wolesi Jirga, exchanged harsh arguments on its Saturday’s session over a parliamentary commission’s report on land-grabbing corruption. In its report, the special parliamentary commission, created to oversee government’s performance, said that more than 300,000 acres of government land has been grabbed across the country. Saleh Saljuqi, a member of the commission said that most of the lands had been grabbed in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Nangarhar, Balkh and Kunduz provinces. According to Saljuqi, the report includes detailed information of the land grabbers including names, positions, type and location of the relevant land as well as the date of their seizure.
The Commission’s report shows that the most of the lands had been usurped by powerful government officials as well as strongmen outside the government institutions. The findings of the investigation have come as a real debacle in the fight against corruption. While corrupt officials in the government institutions and local strongmen across the country are undeterred in grabbing lands, the government so far lacks the resolve and willingness to take measures against it. As the parliament is going to publish the details of the report, the issue is coming under spotlight. This raises the hopes that the government would seriously confront the issue.
But, is the government able to do this? Do the MPs have the temerity to disclose the names of their colleagues in the House and the powerful government officials? The corruption case of the Kabul Bank indicates that even the government finds evidences enough for trying those who are involved in corruption it does not have the will to pursue them. Despite that the investigations of the Kabul Bank case suggested relatives of top government officials being involved in the Bank’s loss, but the government did not act seriously to bring the perpetrators to trial. Now the government is facing another such high-profile corruption case. Those who are involved in grabbing the lands are senior government officials, lawmakers, warlords and local strongmen.
Beyond all that, the government agencies are specifically guilty in the land corruption, as the corrupt offices paves the ground for that sort of corruption with adulteration of the records and documents. If the government offices were not involved in the forgeries, it was almost impossible for anyone to seize public and private lands, or at least it was easier to detect and track them. The Parliament must seriously pursue the issue and take the relevant ministries accountable for handling the cases.
As the foreign presence is ending, Afghanistan will heavily be relied on international aid to fund its security forces and implement development projects. But the foreign donors have specified that they will remain committed to the pledge only if the government of Afghanistan remains committed to fight against corruption. Now, as the foreign troops are heading to the exit gates, such cases of corruption are alarming about the course of fight against corruption and the fragility of long-term commitment of the foreign countries towards Afghanistan.